Driver Profile: Scott Hancock
Expediting Owner/Operator Scott Hancock is a man of many talents and interests. A US Navy veteran, a long-time musician, stock car racer and owner, this 38-year-old owner/operator has also tried his hand in a number of occupations and enterprises during his working life.
Scott currently leases his Class 8-based expediting straight truck with Express-1 of Buchanan, MI, running solo in his Freightliner Century Class unit. He was most recently featured in an Expediters Online.com article in which he participated in Express-1's first installment of their "ride-along" program.
This expediter was also the recipient of Express-1's Driver of the Year for 2001.
Originally raised in Niles, MI, Scott joined the US Navy shortly after high school graduation and "that's where I developed my Gypsy blood! I spent twelve years in the service, with most of them as an electronic warfare technician."
"My first sea duty and tour was on the USS Nimitz - the nuclear aircraft carrier. After that, came duty on numerous destroyers and other ships. I was able to visit the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and various locations in Europe, the North Atlantic, and even the Arctic Circle, where I received the "Order of the Blue Nose."
Scott's last duty assignment was as a Navy recruiter based in Richmond, IN, where he says, "it's the only place I've ever lived that felt like home right off the bat. When I left the Navy after 12 years in 1992, I settled down right there."
"After I left the Navy," he continues, "I started at ground zero. I have to admit I was lost for awhile. I bounced around for a time and tried various occupations, but found I had a difficult time going into the same job everyday.
"I went into management with an oil change firm and ran my own store for a while. I went back to college after that, while still deciding on a vocation. I discovered that I really enjoyed the school environment and gave serious thought to becoming a professional student!"
"Over a six year period, my jobs included: manager of a self-storage facility, working maintenance on automated car wash equipment, and a little bit of construction work. I was able to develop a good reputation in the area of cost analysis and efficiency consultancy in the construction industry."
Scott tells us of an enduring passion that has remained with him since his teenage years: playing music. "Until recently, I was very active in different bands, working as a bass player and vocalist. The groups I was in would play country, southern rock and good ole rock n' roll."
"Music has always been a labor of love for me, but after a time, it did become quite a grind. With the travel time to the jobs - two or three nights a week and sometimes more - the setup and teardown and all the rest, it was very time intensive. With one band I was in, we went non-stop for a two and a half year stretch without a weekend off."
Scott's wanderlust reappeared when he began his new vocation of delivering school buses that he picked up at the now-defunct Carpenter factory in Richmond, IN. He would travel as far west as Nebraska and anywhere east of the Mississippi, towing his personal vehicle behind the bus.
Unfortunately, after the demise of that plant, he says that the deadhead miles to other school bus locations for pickups became too great and between the driving and the part-time musical career, he was working 7 days a week.
The expediting bug
"I was really hooked on the travel with the school bus thing," Scott says, "but with winter coming on, the work slowed down. I got a job with a local expediting company driving a day cab straight truck. That was my first real experience with the delivery lifestyle. I discovered right away that I enjoyed this business, meeting the people on the docks and the others in this business."
"I enjoy driving because, during the time spent behind the wheel, I can think ahead and make plans for the future." Scott relates that it didn't take him long to realize that running a day cab with no sleeper was not the way to enjoy life on the road.
He says that he was envious of the true expediting trucks he saw on the road and was also tired of the shared equipment he was forced to run when he was with the local company. He wanted a truck of his own.
"I started making phone calls and doing research and started shopping for a truck," states Scott. "I've got a mentor by the name of Jerry Furnish who has given me a great deal of valuable insight into trucks and this business. He pointed me in the direction of my first truck, a 1998 FL 70."
"Jerry's been a valuable ally over the last few years. He's a veteran expediter and has helped me with many great tips about trucks and expediting."
"After I got my first truck," Scott tells us, "I went with one of the major expediting companies, but soon realized that their system and my ideas about this business would not match. I started looking around for a company with whom I could develop a long-term partnership."
Scott says that he talked to an Express-1 driver who had positive comments about his company and after talking to the Express-1 Director of Recruiting, Michael Ruelle several times; he felt that he had discovered his company.
"It seemed that the company and I both have the same desire to succeed, so in May, 2001, I signed on with Express-1. After discussing it with Jerry, he felt it was a good move and coincidentally, he happened to have a 2001 Freightliner Century Class truck he was looking to sell, so I started with a new truck at a new company."
Scott's Freightliner with integral sleeper features a 350hp motor hooked to an Eaton Fuller Super 10 transmission and mounts a 22-foot cargo box. "I love this truck; to me, a Class 8 platform is the only way to go, it eliminates a lot of the fatigue that I felt with my first truck."
Although he has always run a solo operation, Scott says that he was still able to log 130,000 miles in his first full year of running. "Besides," he says, "I don't feel comfortable in the jump seat, I have to drive!"
"I stay out on the road 6-8 weeks at a time; when I'm out here, I want to run non-stop. I try to put myself in a position to get the freight by locating to the "hot" areas, but I have to say that I will deadhead just about anywhere to find the loads. I'll do whatever it takes to improve my odds for freight."
"When freight is on the truck, I become very focused with delivering that load and sometimes lose track of time."
A passion for racing
"When I decided to enter the expediting business, my wife, Lisa, and I agreed that if we could sacrifice for a few years, we could save some money and get more heavily into racing."
Scott says that he's always had a love of car racing and "turning the wrenches." He says that lack of time and resources combined with major injuries keep him out of the driver's seat, but fortunately Lisa is an excellent driver and has been taking the wheel duties.
"We're currently racing stock cars on asphalt short tracks and we would like to go into sprints."
"Since Lisa has been driving, and has had a degree of success, we've developed a following. I think it's great and if some young teenage girl in the stands watches Lisa and can see how well she's doing, we've done our job."
"We started on a small scale," Scott continues, "but we're growing. I'm considering a multi-car racing team with female drivers."
"I have three daughters aged 16, 14 and 9 years old, so I can appreciate that girls need a father-figure in their lives. I've sponsored a softball team for some time now; I figure it's something I can do to give back to the community."
"Two of my daughters live in Michigan, about ten miles from Express-1's offices, so I visit them whenever I can."
Scott tells of his take on the expediting industry: "With the competition in expediting, anyone can haul freight at whatever charge. Companies need to focus on customer service and go above and beyond the call of duty. A company should impress upon a customer that no one can do a better job. I'm not saying that a company should cut their rates and haul for pennies, just give them their money's worth."
"I see specialized expediting becoming more important. It seems that so much freight is now going LTL to cut costs, so I predict special handling type freight will become more commonplace. Expediting and LTL are different animals and companies should recognize that and handle each accordingly."
Thoughts about his company
"In the last year and a half," Scott reflects, "Express-1 has become my second family, and I've spent a lot of time at the office. I've developed some relationships with the people."
Scott says that if he's had a bad day, he can stop in the office and there's always someone there to talk to. "Not necessarily in a complaint sense, just someone to discuss business with."
"The guys in management have always been open to me, and Michael Ruelle (now Manager of Human Resources) is great. They're always willing to listen to my suggestions and make me feel valued. I'm one of the people out here in the trenches everyday, so I can offer solutions to the problems. I feel like I'm appreciated there, and I hope our relationship can continue for many years."
"I didn't expect to win Driver of the Year Award for 2001! I try to give 110 per cent in everything I do and when your company recognizes you, it makes it easier to do the job. I figure the better we each do, the better the other does."
"If I have a business philosophy, I guess it would be to 'Represent my company and myself the best I can.'"